Today we’re joined by August. August is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in drawing people. They focus on body diversity, drawing bodies in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also enjoy drawing transgender and nonbinary characters as well. They have a very refreshing approach to art and believe people can be beautiful without being oversexualized or fetishized. Their work is gorgeous, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking part in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
Hello! My name is August and I use the pronouns They/Them. I’m currently a university student working on my BA for Multimedia. My art is more often digital and focuses on women of color. I also really enjoy drawing transgender and nonbinary characters as well. It wasn’t always my focus, but the reason I shifted to drawing this particular genre is because I myself am a person of color and it’s hard to find artwork that doesn’t just fetishize our bodies, but empowers us. With that said, my main focus is heavier set bodies that fit “media standards”. Bodies are beautiful and I want to be able to portray a love for every shape and size with honor and dignity. I’ve heard people describe my mission as “political” but I don’t think it’s political to want a female body to appear beautiful without oversexualization.
What inspires you?
What inspires me on a regular basis is music. Music is such a big part of my life and with all of my anxiety, it does a wonderful job of keeping me grounded. It doesn’t happen with every song I listen to, but every now and again I’ll listen to something and it will paint such a vivid image in my mind that I have to grab a sketchbook and start a new piece. It isn’t always immediately obvious how music inspires each piece, but I think that’s something I can hold for myself and not feel like I have to explain to anyone. It’s a personal experience, after all.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a visual artist. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create something. In middle school I was part of the after school newspaper, and wrote stories for each issue. Sometimes I wrote poetry and most other times I would sit alone and draw in a notebook. What eventually stuck with me the most was my visual artistry and ever since then I’ve been dedicated to improving my craft.
I suppose one of the main reasons I became interested in the arts is the fact that I was born with a physical disability that prevented me from being incredibly active. Art was one of the few things I could do that didn’t involve running around and it really means a lot to me in terms of expressing myself. Everyone deserves an outlet, whatever that may mean to them and for me, that is art.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Nothing that I’ve intentionally kept secret! I do have one quirk though and that is I only draw four fingers per hand. I don’t have a particular reason why and sometimes people will point it out, thinking I made a mistake. I suppose it dates back to when I started really focusing on drawing people. There were some artists I followed that drew in a cartoonish style and their characters all had four fingers per hand. I adopted that style and since then it’s just always been a thing of mine. I think it’s cute!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to never compare yourself to others. Everyone is on their own path and it’s not fair to judge your progress by theirs. You’re not trying to be exactly like them, so why does their own talent matter to you?
If anything, I would say compare yourself to yourself. On days where I feel frustrated with my art for whatever reason, I look back on past pieces I’ve done. It always helps me, because I can see what I’ve improved on and where I used to be before. Something else I’d also like to offer is that if you draw every day, or even every now and again, you have a talent. You have an artistic bone inside you and the only way it can grow is practice and repetition. Anyone can be an artist if they put time and energy into their craft.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life and it’s only been recently that I felt the term “asexual” described my feelings. So far, it’s been working just fine!
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Sometimes when I create characters, people like to know their romantic backstories. I always get a confused look when I tell them a certain character isn’t really interested in the sexual aspect of a relationship. Normally I just shrug off any off hand opinion. It’s my art, my character and my choice.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The most common, which I think anyone under the umbrella can relate to, is that people assume I’m just confused about sex and that I shouldn’t judge it if I haven’t tried it. Another one is that I’ve been told it isn’t real love if you don’t have sex. Which I think is a ridiculous assumption to make and only exists to pressure someone into sexual activity against their personal comfort. If anyone tries to pressure you into a sexual situation and you’re not comfortable, leave. You’re not a bad person for taking control of your body.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Everything is okay. You’re okay. I’m someone who likes to be labeled, because I’ve lived so long without knowing who I was and why I was feeling the way I was that I felt lost and confused. Sometimes I convinced myself it was a phase and I’d grow out of it eventually. But labels help me understand who I am and what I’m about. Other people hate labels. They don’t want to fit into another box and decide that whatever they feel is good enough without a name. And that’s okay too. If you want a label, keep doing research and talking to various members of the queer community. If you don’t want a label, then simply learn to be comfortable with just existing and focus on what makes you happy. There’s no time limit and if it take another week or 5 years to figure yourself out, that’s okay too. And don’t forget, labels change. You aren’t a liar if you chose one label today and another tomorrow. It’s part of the learning process.
I believe in you my friend.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m hoping to establish an online presence again soon, but for now, a few of my pieces can be found on my personal Tumblr: blackjackink.tumblr.com
It’s a bit of a mess, but like I said, I’m going to try and create a personal space for my art. Stay tuned!
Thank you, August, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.